Herbs For Biscuits
Herbs can elevate a plain old boring biscuit to something better and prettier to display (and eat!). Herbs for biscuits are also delicious!
While most herbs can be used in baking, there are some that are particularly useful for biscuits to give them a unique flavour. Grow some of these in your garden for quick access to fresh herbs to add to your next biscuit dough. Saving the seed and drying your herbs for biscuits also works well.
Dill and fennel
For a spicy and distinctive biscuit, dill and fennel tick all the boxes. Use the leaves and the seeds in the dough, and sprinkle seeds on top before baking.
Plant dill in a sunny spot protected from the wind in rich, well-draining soil. It needs lots of water in hot weather to prevent it from going to seed too quickly, but is a hardy, frost-tolerant annual. Plant from spring to mid-summer.
Fennel prefers sandy soil but will grow in any soil type, and some varieties like a richer soil. Regular watering will make for bigger bulbs. Although it’s a perennial it is often planted as an annual and the bulbs are used. It prefers a cooler climate and should be planted from spring to autumn.
The pretty leaves make good decorations for herb biscuits and can also be chopped up finely into the dough. Plant sage in sandy loamy soil in a sunny area and don’t water too much. Neglect is best. They are perennials but should be replaced after 3 – 4 years, when they become too woody. Plant in spring after the last frost and prune after flowering in spring. Feed twice a month with liquid fertiliser.
Thyme is a more subtle flavour than some of the other stronger herbs, so is good for a savoury note in any biscuit dough. Use only the leaves. Plant in full sun in soil that is a bit sandy and free draining. Picking often will help thyme grow, along with a monthly dose of liquid fertiliser. Plant in spring after the frosty period.
A fresh savoury flavour to add to biscuits, and one that is perfect with cheese. Parsley grows best in fertile, well-draining soil in full sun. Water regularly and harvest often. Plant every six months in spring and autumn for the best success.
The strong taste and fragrance of rosemary gives savoury herb biscuits a good flavour. Use only the leaves, and chop them very finely before adding them to the dough. Rosemary does prefer the sandy, coastal conditions where it comes from, and this can be replicated easily in a container. It needs to be sheltered from frost but will take the cold. Plant in spring and trim after flowering.
For sweet herb biscuits, lavender is the king of herbs. The flowers and seeds add a fragrant note to biscuits. Grow lavender in full morning or afternoon sun in rich soil that drains well. The plants need air circulating around them to prevent fungal diseases, so don’t plant them too close to each other. Water well when planting and then reduce watering. Water at the base of the plants and not over the leaves – they don’t like humid conditions. Plant at any time of the year and replace after 3 – 4 years when they become woody.
Herby parmesan shortbreads
2 cups parmesan, finely grated
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
200g butter, softened
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and mix until it comes together in a ball.
Roll out between sheets of wax paper to about ½cm thick. Cut circles into the dough, then press a leaf of fresh herbs into the top of each. Parsley, fennel, thyme and sage work well.
Place on a lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 10 – 12 minutes. Cool on the tray.
Keep in an airtight container for a few days.
This shortbread recipe uses lavender sugar – it’s also really nice to have a jar of lavender sugar in the pantry, reserved for special occasions. Make sure the lavender is well dried before you add it to the sugar if you intend to keep it stored for any length of time.
For the lavender sugar
110g castor sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped lavender flowers and leaves
Mix the castor sugar with the finely chopped lavender flowers and leaves.
For the shortbread
350g plain white flour
110g lavender sugar
75g rice flour
Pinch of baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C. Sieve together the flour, lavender sugar, rice flour, a good pinch of salt and a good pinch of baking powder.
Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the dry ingredients until the whole mixture comes together.
Spread evenly onto a baking tray and bake for about 1 – 11/2 hours in the oven. The shortbread should be a pale golden colour and fully cooked through.
Cut into squares or fingers while still hot and sprinkle with some castor sugar.
Leave to cool in the tin, then hide away in an airtight container.